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Pennsylvania: Did You Know?

Did you know that Pennsylvania originally included abortion care as a service covered in the temporary high-risk pools implemented as part of health-care reform – until the federal government stepped in to ban this coverage?

In July 2010, various news outlets reported that Pennsylvania’s insurance plan for individuals in the “high-risk” pools established by federal health-care reform included coverage of abortion services.  The high-risk pools are a temporary, three-year program aimed at providing health-insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions – including cancer and diabetes – that had previously prevented them from obtaining health insurance. 

Unfortunately, in response to the media controversy, the Obama administration announced that it would exclude abortion coverage from the high-risk pools.  The regulation subsequently put out by the Department of Health and Human Services, which was not required by any federal law, mandates that the high-risk insurance pools cover abortion care only in the cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment – a ban that reaches even further than the already burdensome Nelson provisions in the federal health-reform legislation passed in early 2010.  This policy means that women with significant health problems who are in these pools in Pennsylvania and across the country will not be able to access abortion coverage, even if their health is at further risk.

Julian Pecquet, Conservatives Say that Pennsylvania High-Risk Pool Would Cover Abortions, The Hill (July 14, 2010).   News Release, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Statement of HHS Spokeswoman Jenny Backus on the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan Policy (July 14, 2010).


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